Archive for the 'Movies/TV' Category

“The Painted Veil” is remarkable

Monday, January 22nd, 2007

Wendy and I went to see the movie The Painted Veil over the weekend.  We knew very little about the movie going in except the by-line:

A love story set in the 1920s about a young English couple–a conservative doctor and a restless society girl–who marry hastily, relocate to Hong Kong. There they betray each other easily, and find an unexpected chance at redemption and happiness while on a deadly journey into the heart of ancient China.

We figured it was going to be, more or less, a standard romantic drama but were both a little unsure of what “a deadly journey into the heart of ancient China” meant.

So I’d like to recommend the movie without giving away any more than I have to because I think it made the movie that much better.  But I will say this:

If I had a “business card” that applied to my entire life my title would be “God fearing Husband, Engineer, Sailor, Bears fan and student of the Human Condition”.  Just about every movie that I’ve truly loved has said something meaningful about the human condition.

And this movie delivers on that.

One of my biggest peives is movies that are given the opportunity to deliver on a meaningful point about the human condition that instead pass up the chance and pull their punches so that the movie can have a “Hollywood ending”.  As I told Wendy as we stood up after the credits, “That movie DID NOT pull any punches.”

In fact, just when you thought it was going to let you off the hook, it went for the kill.

OK, I know that was beating around the bush.  But if you are interested in movies that delve into the heart of human nature, trust me, you’re going to love this movie.

Let it out – ugh

Thursday, January 11th, 2007

I don’t know how many of my readers have seen the following commercial:

If that the absolute worst, most blatent, ridiculous, even condescending attempt at a fake tear-jerking moment, I don’t know what is.  The only thing that saves the commercial from being criminally bad is the song that is used.  It gives the commercial a reflective vibe that saves it from being too serious.  Nevertheless the commercial is bad to its core in my opinion.

To make matters worse, it’s not not a commercial but a marketing thrust.  If you go to (please don’t actually go there, you’ll only encourage Kleenex) you’d see that they have a moderated (aka requires significant people and dollars from Kleenex) forum for people to “Let It Out” as well as a number of videos of people sharing their story that didn’t make the commercials.

What has the world come to when people fall for this kind of crud…

Apocalypto review

Sunday, January 7th, 2007

Last night I finally saw Mel Gibsons Apocalytpo.  I had extremely high expectations for this movie.  I’m a huge Mel Gibson movie fan and am at the same time very fascinated with the downfall of the Mayan and Aztec empires and the Spanish conquest of Mexico (as a quick aside, I HIGHLY recommend this book to everyone).  When you add to it the rave reviews it recieved, I was nearly besides myself with excitement to see the movie.

Overall, it didn’t live up to the hype for me.

Before I get into the specifics of my review, I’ll address the gore-factor.  One of the few criticisms of this movie is that it is supposedly extremely bloody.  I heard comments from reviewers like “Gibson is one sick man.”  I can say with assuredness that it is significanly less bloody than both Passion of the Christ and Braveheart.  The only part that was unusually bloody was the human sacrifice scenes in the middle of the movie.  Yet those seemed to me to be purposesly, at least from the perspective of a Gibson film where he seems to indulge the viewers in visual depictions, toned down.  For very squeemish people, I still wouldn’t recommend this movie but for your average person that doesn’t mind the gore of your average action movie, I don’t think you need to avoid this movie.

Now onto the review…

I think the movie was good, but not up to Gibson standards.  Both Braveheart and Passion had a very hard-hitting message.  I felt like the message here, although it was there, lacked the impact that I expect from his movies.  The critical scene in the middle of the movie lacked the cinematic impact that both Braveheart and Passion crucial scenes had.  Apocalytpo’s critical scene felt disjointed and confused.

Additionally, the message of the movie was not central to the plot of the movie.  The two were running in parallel.  Additionally, the plot was very simple and lacked significant suspense.  You knew going in exactly what was going to happen and that’s just what happened.

So overall, the message didn’t hit home, the plot was simple and predictable and the key scene of the movie lacked impact.  Sounds pretty bad, eh?  Well, not quite.  Gibson is still a master of movie-making and he did an incredible job with most of the visual images.  The soundtrack was good as well.  Additionally, Gibson yet again found no-name actors who did a remarkably good job.  There are a ton of scenes with great dramatic impact and overall was a lot better than most movies.

In the end this movie suffered, for me at least, from overly high expectations but was overall a good movie worth seeing.

Movie quotes of good “car incidents”

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007

OK, I’m looking for some help here.  I’ve got a top-secret project right now that I could use some good audio clips from movies.  What I’m looking for is various “car incidents”.  You know, crashes, people yelling at/from cars, that type of stuff.

Can anybody think of some good lines from movies that come from “car incidents”?  Funny stuff is prefereable but anything is OK.  I’ve got a block and can’t think of anything.

And for those of you who are here for the Cal Bears coverage, there will be more coming tonight: A wrapup on my Holiday Bowl trip and post bowl game analysis.

The Pursuit of Happyness or Richyness?

Monday, December 18th, 2006

Over the weekend I saw the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness” with Will Smith (note to readers: yes, they mis-spell happiness on purpose).  It was well done, excellently acted and a compelling storyline.  However, the movie left me flat.

Part of that was because I was vetoed from seeing what I think is the best movie in theaters: Apocalypto.  Then my second choice The Nativity Story was apparently not “San Francisco/Berkeley morals friendly” as it was only showing in one theatre in the area and at an inconvenient time.

Another part of it is that I’ve seen “the unbelievable TRUE story about man who overcomes adversity to find success through determination” before.  Sure the title and actors change each time, but the plot is basically the same.

But beyond that there seemed to me to be a big problem with the story.  The story revolves around a poor man and his son.  The man is struggling to get by after getting into a sales business for which he fronted a large sum to get into.  He decides to go another direction and applies for an unpaid stock broker internship that 20 people are given of which only 1 will get a paid job at the end of the six month internship.

The story is setup as being about a man who wants to provide for his son.  But it seems to me the story is about a man who wants to make sure his son grows up as the son of a rich man and therefore has access to wealth himself.  It seems to me that this man made a number of poor choices if his goal was really to provide for his son.  His choices reflected taking the 1000 to 1 shot to get rich that will leave you in ruins if it fails instead of the 2 to 1 shot to find financial stability that will leave you slightly poorer if it fails.  In my mind, the only thing that separates what he did from going to the casino with your paycheck is that he had some influence over the percentages.  It doesn’t change the fact that it was wreckless. 

(warning spoilers ahead)

The story (not told in chronological order in the movie) starts with the guy buying into a medical device sales business by cornering the market for the Bay Area.  As a result he buys what looks like about forty of these $250 items (1980 dollars, so think $1000).  But they don’t sell like he wants so he’s stuck with this huge inventory and the associated debt.

Now he’s looking for a change because he can’t support his family.  So he applies for this unpaid internship after seeing a guy pull up in his Farrari.

Are you kidding me?  This is supposed to be inspirational?

Let’s just imagine for a second that there was a second guy in his same shoes and that the guy takes the same actions.  At a minimum, one of the two of them is going to end up destitute and without anything to show for their effort.

There are lots of jobs out there that can provide for a family that don’t require putting your financial ruin on the line.  And while I have nothing against starting an aggressive and dangerous financial venture, one must always make sure that they are providing for those dependant on them.  If the venture risks putting your kids in a homeless shelter every evening without end, that’s not acceptable.  The time for that kind of a venture is before you have a family.

In the end I was left feeling unmoved because the story was one that highlighted not love for one’s family, even though it was the supposed point of the story, but the desire for greed in spite the impact on one’s family.  You can sugar coat “getting a better life for your children” all you want.

But greed is greed.

Good evening Godless Sodomites!

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

This video from the Emmy Awards is hilarious.  Every time I see more of Steven Colbert I keep telling myself I need to watch his show.  Maybe if Amazing Race 10 jumps the shark this season I can switch what the one show I watch is…

There was an interesting discussion on another Catholic blog about who he’s making fun of.  Some dislike him because they think his humor is pointed at conservative religious people and “the joke is on us”.  And in some sense they are right.  However, I’m reminded of the odd discussions regarding the movie Taladega Nights and the liberals who couldn’t understand why southerners or conservatives could like this movie that was making fun of them.

What people like this is forget what the point of parody is: to exagerate.  See, life is about balance.  You can’t be all about one thing.  Parody gives to opportunity to exagerate portions of one’s life that are always in that constant battle for balance.  So I can laugh when someone calls me a bulldozer because I know there is truth in it.  But it is not a complete truth, nor does it define me.  It’s funny to think about what life would be like if we lacked that balance.

So, to take an example from this video, nobody, even somebody who believed it, would go up on stage and say “Good evening Godless Sodomites”.  It’s a parody of the truth and there is humor in it even for those, heck ESPECIALLY for those, who have leanings that direction.

Another good movie: Just Like Heaven

Sunday, August 6th, 2006

Another movie that Wendy and I watched recently was Just Like Heaven.  It was also surprisingly good.  While it had a fairly high “cheese factor” and a lot of stereotypical rom-com stuff, overall I was happy with it.  Also, I was very glad to see the anti-Euthenasia theme (although it was handled fairly lightly).

Surprisingly good movie: Click

Sunday, August 6th, 2006

I have mixed feelings about Adad Sandler.  While in some ways I’m disappointed in him because his humor has gotten more sexually crass over the years, I’ve also been glad to see him attempt to have stonger messages in his movies.  Case in point: 50 first dates.  While I wasn’t happen with the androgynous character Alexa and references to tacos and sausages, I was overall very happy with the themes of true love and dedicating one’s life to another person despite the difficulty of doing so.

Well, Adam Sandler’s latest movie Click, is even more severe in following this trend.  There was even more crude humor, so much so that some of my more sensitive Catholic friends walked out on the movie.  Which is really a shame because once this movie gets rolling… it packs a powerful punch with a VERY compelling moral theme and message.  At the end of the movie (which Wendy and I went to as part of a rare “date night”) we both looked at each other and said the same thing: “That was not what I expected”

It was a powerful movie that REALLY tugged on the heartstrings.  But there was nothing cheap in those tugs.  It was a solid plot and a movie I was very glad to see.

Now only if I could get Sandler to clean up the humor a bit.

Schindler’s List

Saturday, October 8th, 2005

I finally saw Schindler’s List a mere 12 years after it came out in the theaters. I’ve been meaning to see this movie ever since it came out but wanted to be able to fully experience it by being ready for the graphic nature of the story and that moment never seemed to come, until last night when I got home from work and Wendy and the boys were still in Oroville visiting their Great Grandparents.

It was a very good movie and it is understandable why it won the awards that it did. It was far less graphic than I expected it to be from Holocaust perspective and much more graphic from a sexual perspective than I expected. There were way to many women in bed with exposed breasts. The Holocaust violence was well balanced in the sense that nothing was hidden but nothing was over “exploited” to pull on the heart strings. It was just raw. But again, there was far less of it from a number of minutes perspective than I expected.

I also thought that this was a two, maybe two and a half hour movie stretched to three plus hours. The beginning of the movie felt very surreal and didn’t do much to build up the movie other than to force the viewer to concentrate very intensely to try and understand what was being put together.

The heart of this movie doesn’t really kick in until the last hour although the preceding portions do a lot of necessary ground work the make the last hour have the impact it does. Particularly moving is the climax when Oskar realizes what his work had actually accomplished and as a consequence realized how much more he wishes he could have done.

If you haven’t seen it, you should. It is an important movie that touches on more than just the Holocaust but also the nature of oppression, suffering, opportunism, redemption and salvation.

I had a number of “out-growth” thoughts regarding the movie:

– Oskar in the end is made out to be the hero of the movie when in many ways he was a compromised soul going through the process of redemption. It makes me sick to think the far more holy soul Pope Pius XII is called “Hitler’s Pope” when he in fact saved far more lives than Mr. Schindler did while maintaining the moral high ground. For anyone who’s interested in reading another story of a man who is struggling behind the scenes to save as many lives as possible should read Hitler, the War, and the Pope.
– There is a great temptation amongst religious of all stripes to isolate themselves from the rest of the world. This is an understandable desire as there is so much temptation in the world that we’d like to avoid. However, it is only by operating in the world that we can do good for others. Oskar was definitely a man of the world. A man locked up in a monastery would not have seen what Oskar saw and would have been powerless to do what Oskar did. As it is said, we must live in this world but not of this world.
– On a completely different topic, it’s amazing how many movies use the same stupid tactics to entertain or make an impact. This movie definitely used the “wear the audience down before we hit them with it” technique and I think that’s why the movie was 3+ hours long. Other examples not in this movie include “add a heart string tug that has nothing to do with the plot”, “the obligatory happy ending”, “the comic relief character” and of course “the gratuitous sex scene” amongst others. In fact, I’d be interested to hear what other ones you guys could come up with for stupid techniques used over and over to try to make a movie good.

Wow no wonder “The Shining” made such a big impact!

Friday, September 30th, 2005

Have you ever seen the original trailer for the movie “The Shining”? Click on the above link to see why this movie so impacted people when they first saw it.

A little misleading isn’t it?